Police probe fatal Corona-denial event

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A second person has died and at least 12 are confirmed infected with the Corona virus after an illegal gathering in Gran in Hadeland just before Easter. Those attending don’t believe the Corona crisis is real and have refused to cooperate with infection trackers. 

Police have been called upon to help official in Gran investigate an illegal gathering of Corona disbelievers. Its organizer and a woman attending it have since died, both of whom were infected with Covid-19, and at least 12 others are now infected as well. PHOTO: Justisdepartementet

Local newspaper Hadeland and Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported Monday that local officials are still trying to learn how many people were present in the barn belonging to Hans Kristian Gaarder when he hosted an event there on March 26 and a suspected follow-up event the next day. Gaarder, who was found dead in his home early last week, was best known as a conspiracy theoritician who opposed vaccines and denied the Corona crisis existed.

NRK reported that he had invited followers to the gathering on March 26 called “Trump, Biden and the way forward for the USA and the world.” He also invited to a “workshop to set up a people’s court” the next day that would study how Corona restrictions are allegedly violating the rights of Norwegians, and determine which types of crimes should be chosen for follow-up and indictments.”

He’s believed to already have been infected with the virus at the time. He never sought help from a doctor and did not get tested, but was tested port-mortem and confirmed to be infected with Covid-19. Autopsy results were pending.

Participant in her 70s died, too
On Monday the family of a woman in her 70s who had attended the gathering confirmed her death after being ill with a respiratory ailment for the past week. She was also tested post-mortem and confirmed to be infected with Covid-19.

Her family reported that she didn’t want any medical help even after becoming steadily more ill. When her family failed to make contact with her on Saturday they called emergency services and entered her home where she also was found dead. They said they were aware she had taken part in an “illegal arrangement” during Easter.

“We knew that she was skeptical towards both vaccines and the public information issued about Covid-19,” the family wrote in a press release Monday, “but it was new to us that she was involved in this (Kristiansen’s) milieu. We as her relatives don’t share her attitudes about the pandemic and think it’s very sad she has now died and didn’t want any medical help.”

Police called in as infection spreads
Gran officials, faced with two Corona-related deaths and rising infection linked to Kristiansen’s gathering that’s also spread to Jevnaker, Oslo, Asker, Moss and Våler, have now reported the illegal gathering to the police. Dr Are Løken, chief medical officer in Gran, has publicly complained that others who attended the gathering have not cooperated with infection trackers, some won’t admit they attended and some have even given misleading information. They still didn’t know as of Monday afternoon how many people actually attended the event.

After a crisis meeting among Gran’s political leaders, Mayor Randi Eek Thorsen filed a police report. She told NRK that the consequences of the event are “very serious” and that the event itself violated Gran’s Corona containment measures at the time. She continued to urge all Gran residents to test themselves at the slightest sign of symptoms because of the fear of “wild infection” in the community.

‘Alarming’ gathering in Oslo, too
Newspaper Dagsavisen editorialized on Monday about how “alarming” the situation was, also because of the Corona denial within what it called “the Norwegian alternative milieu.” The paper noted how some of Kristiansen’s followers were also denying that his Covid-19 infection was the cause of his death, blaming it instead on 5G telephone masts, radiation or foul play.

“It’s frightening that such thinking has spread in Norway,” Dagsavisen wrote. It also noted how around 200 people also gathered in front of Parliament in Oslo on Saturday to protest Corona restrictions, burn face masks and take part in a defiant collective hug.

“Norway is a free country, you’re allowed to believe what you want, and most all freedom of expression is allowed,” Dagsavisen wrote. “That doesn’t mean, however, that people can demand the freedom to threaten other people’s lives and health in the middle of a pandemic.” Even though the numbers of Norwegians in Corona denial are small, it concluded, they can pose a threat to others, and “there’s all reason to take this development seriously.”

NewsInEnglish.no/Nina Berglund